A global transition

The transition to be made is not related to energy alone, it must be much more global. The other transitions to be implemented concern in particular:

• Demography. The world population has exploded from 3 billion inhabitants in 1960 to 6.5 billion inhabitants in 2005. The growth rate which peaked at 2.1% between 1965 and 1970 had dropped back to a level of about 1% for the world population. This global trend covers major disparities, the fertility rate of the poor countries (2.9 children per woman) being roughly double that of the rich countries (1.6 children per woman). The population will reach 9.1 billion inhabitants in 2050, if the fertility rate continues to decline progressively.

If the demographic pressure on the environment is to diminish, we must ensure that this deceleration in demographic growth rate is kept under control and stabilise the level of the world population. After the current transition period during which the birth rate exceeds the death rate, we could return to a new equilibrium, with a fall in the birth rate, resulting in a stable world population [39].

• Food production. We must be able to feed the world population, while avoiding excessive use of energy and resources, via new agricultural production modes and also by developing novel consumption modes.

Improving the efficiency of the food chain is of paramount importance to cope with the increasing consumption of proteins in the world. We must move towards breeding species which consume the lowest quantities of cereals, while striving to moderate the consumption of meat in the richest countries. In this respect, the rapid growth of dairy production in India and fish farming in China constitute significant achievements [97].

• Water and raw material resources. New raw material management modes must be found to minimise losses, based on recycling. It is essential to reduce pollution which continues to spoil vital resources, often irreversibly. The issue of water resources clearly represents a major concern for the future.

• Development and education. Success in the various transitions required, and primarily the demographic transition, will depend on progress in eradicating the most extreme forms of poverty and in the field of education.

• Ways of life and mentalities. This 'cultural' transition is essential, especially in the richest countries. These countries must manage to change their ways of life in order to dissociate creation of value and quality of life from unrestrained consumption of energy resources.

The energy transition must therefore be considered from the perspective of a global transition which concerns society as a whole through its ways of life and the way it manages resources.

The issues of energy, development and the environment are interlinked and require a common approach guided by true 'planetary ethics'.

0 0

Post a comment